Birmingham got its name from the old English word “Beormingaham,” which means the settlement of Biormingas. They were the people of a tribe called Boerma. Birmingham is the second-largest city and metropolitan borough located in the West Midlands, England. English is the primary language in Birmingham, spoken by around 85 percent of the population.
Birmingham is the second-largest city, second-largest metropolitan area, and third-largest urban area in the United Kingdom, with roughly 1.2 million inhabitants within the city area, 2.8 million inhabitants within the urban area, and 4.3 million inhabitants within the metropolitan area.
The city proper is the most populated English local government district. If you are looking to study, migrate or start a business in Birmingham, then you might want to read this article to find out the pros and cons of living in Birmingham UK.
What are the Pros and Cons of Living in Birmingham UK?
One of the advantages of living in Birmingham is the affordability and low cost of living the city offers. Birmingham offers the buzz of a big city with a big choice of shopping, restaurants, bars, and live performances. But amazingly it comes without a hefty price tag, which means you get to take part in pretty much everything that it has to offer.
The cost of living in Birmingham, United Kingdom for a family of four is estimated monthly at 2,804$ (2,235£) without rent. A single person estimated monthly costs are 823$ (656£) without rent. Birmingham is 36.72 percent less expensive than New York (without rent).
2. Robust Entertainment and Night Life
In Birmingham, you can enjoy world-class theatre, concerts, ballet, and entertainment all in one place. There are countless restaurants, including Michelin-starred and independent venues, and plenty of bars and cafes. Birmingham is home to many entrainment and leisure venues.
Birmingham is home to Europe’s largest leisure and entertainment complex Star City as well as Europe’s first out-of-city-center entertainment and leisure complex Resorts World Birmingham owned by the Genting Group. The Mailbox which caters to more affluent clients is based within the city.
3. Tourist Attraction
Another advantage that makes Birmingham attract people is that it is a top tourist city. Birmingham has more than 56 km (35 mi) of canals. To put this into perspective, the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, is 0.5 miles high. So, Birmingham has more distance covered by canals than 65 Burj Khalifa’s put together! That’s even more than Venice, the city of canals.
You can explore Victoria Square & the City Center, take a tour of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, see the Blooms at The Birmingham Botanical Gardens, get smart at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum and take the family to the National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham, amongst other tourist attractions in the city.
4. Ideal Location to Start Business
Birmingham grew to prominence as a center of manufacturing and engineering but the economy of Birmingham is dominated by the service sector, which accounted for 88 percent of the city’s employment in 2012.
For five years running, Birmingham has produced the highest number of new businesses outside London. Affordable office space, new developments, and a talent base not as thinly stretched as the capital mean that Birmingham is ideal for new businesses.
5. Good Road Network
Partly due to its central location, Birmingham is a major transport hub on the motorway, railway, and canal networks. The city is served by the M5, M6, M40, and M42 motorways, and possibly the most well-known motorway junction in the United Kingdom: Spaghetti Junction, a colloquial name for the Gravelly Hill Interchange.
The M6 passes through the city on the Bromford Viaduct, which at 3.5 miles (5.6 km) is the longest bridge in the UK. Birmingham introduced a Clean Air Zone from 1 June 2021, which charges polluting vehicles to travel into the city center.
Since Birmingham is located almost right in the middle of England, you can travel to pretty much anywhere in the country from there in 4 hours or less.
6. Busy Airport
Another reason why people would want to live in Birmingham is that you will be enjoying easy travels because of the busy nature of the airport.
Birmingham Airport, located 6 miles (9.7 km) east of the city center in the neighboring borough of Solihull, is the seventh busiest airport by passenger traffic in the UK and the third busiest outside the London area, after Manchester and Edinburgh. It is a major base for Flybe, Ryanair, and TUI Airways. Airline services operate from Birmingham to many destinations in Europe, Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, Asia, and Oceania.
7. Good Place to Study and Work
With five major universities (Aston University, Birmingham City University, Birmingham University, Newman University, and University College Birmingham), Birmingham is considered an important center of education. Birmingham is also known for being a global center for industry, business, and commerce.
The most significant industries are Manufacturing and Engineering, which contribute massively to the national economy and provide over 100,000 jobs.
8. Green City
It might interest you to note that Birmingham is one of the UK’s greenest cities hence if you appreciate nature, then you should settle in Birmingham. With more than 8,000 acres of parks, Birmingham has more space than 1300 Colosseums from Rome combined.
The world’s largest urban park that is not in a capital city, Sutton Park, is located in Birmingham. It covers over 2400 acres and is the 7th largest park in Europe. Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone covers all the roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road, but not the Middleway itself. It has been very heavily advertised throughout the local area and has been in operation since 1 June 2021.
9. Great Cultural Heritage and History
Birmingham boasts of having a great cultural heritage and history. The world-famous ship, the Titanic, had its anchor made in the Black Country northwest of Birmingham. The world’s first steam engine was also constructed there. Birmingham has the largest regional library and public cultural space in Europe, the Library of Birmingham. It receives around 2.5 million visitors per year.
So also, the oldest working cinema in the United Kingdom, the Electric Cinema, is in Birmingham city. Today, Birmingham hosts over 50 festivals every year. Stone age artifacts found around Birmingham date back as early as 8000 BC.
10. High Diversity
Another advantage you will enjoy if you decide to live in Birmingham is the diversity of the city. According to figures from the 2011 UK Census, 57.9 percent of the population was White (53.1 percent White British, 2.1 percent White Irish, 2.7 percent Other White), 4.4 percent of mixed race (2.3 percent White and Black Caribbean, 0.3 percent White and Black African, 1.0 percent white and Asian, 0.8 percent Other Mixed),
26.6 percent Asian (13.5 percent Pakistani, 6.0 percent Indian, 3.0 percent Bangladeshi, 1.2 percent Chinese, 2.9 percent Other Asian), 8.9 percent Black (2.8 percent African, 4.4 percent Caribbean, 1.7 percent Other Black), 1.0 percent Arab and 1.0 percent of other ethnic heritage. 57 percent of primary and 52 percent of secondary pupils are from non-White British families.
It might also interest you to note that about 238,313 Birmingham residents were born overseas, of these, 44 percent (103,682) have been residents in the UK for less than ten years
1. Sales Tax is High in Birmingham
One major drawback when it comes to living in Birmingham is the high sales tax. For a place with an affordable cost of living, Birmingham has a relatively high sales tax. At 10 percent, it is significantly higher than the U.S. national average of 7.25 percent.
That means that you’ll pay nearly 3 percent more in taxes on things like food, clothing, and so forth. The standard VAT rate is 20 percent, with a reduced rate of 5 percent for certain items. There also are some specific zero-rated reliefs and exemptions.
2. High Crime Rate
Another drawback that you should consider if you want to move to Birmingham is the high crime rate in the city. Birmingham is the most dangerous major city in the West Midlands and is among the top 10 most dangerous overall out of the West Midlands’s 44 towns, villages, and cities.
The annual crime rate in the Birmingham postcode area is 41.5, i.e., 41.5 crimes reported per annum per 1000 workday people. Compared to the national crime rate, Birmingham’s crime rate is at 130 percent. Violent crime makes up 36.1 percent of all crimes reported in the postcode area. The overall crime rate in Birmingham in 2021 was 50 crimes per 1,000 people.
3. Low Income City
Birmingham is the 3rd most deprived core city, behind Liverpool and Manchester. Birmingham fares less well across many indicators such as education, skills, and the living environment. 90 percent of wards are more deprived than the national average.
Median household disposable income in the UK was £31,400 in the financial year ending (FYE) 2021, which covered the first year of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; this was an annual increase of 2 percent, based on estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Household Finances Survey.
4. High Poverty Rate
The high poverty rate in Birmingham is yet another drawback that confronts Birmingham. In Birmingham, over 100,000 children are living in poverty, the equivalent of 37 percent of all children in the city (after housing costs). This is the second-highest rate of child poverty across the UK’s core cities.
Please note that households are considered to be below the UK poverty line if their income is 60 percent below the median household income after housing costs for that year.
5. Short Summer
If you enjoy long summers, then Birmingham might not be your city of choice. This is because, in Birmingham, the summers are short, comfortable, and partly cloudy and the winters are long, very cold, windy, and mostly cloudy. Over the year, the temperature typically varies from 34°F to 70°F and is rarely below 23°F or above 79°F.
Aside from the pros and cons listed above, there are loads of other reasons that might encourage or discourage you from settling in Birmingham. But all in all, before deciding to pitch your tent in Birmingham, it will be advisable to visit the city, check things out yourself, and then compare it with other cities.